MIAMI - Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is at it again.
No, he didn't trade away any more star players. Then again, he only has one of those left in Giancarlo Stanton. Give it time.
Instead, he decided to finally come out of his hiding spot after three months of silence. How did Loria do this? Of course, he decided to write a letter to fans in three local newspapers.
Why bother facing the media and answering the tough questions in person? Nah, let's just hide behind a fancy written PR statement. But, I digress.
Let's get to the letter itself, which if you haven't read it, highlights why Loria continues to be so out of touch with reality. The reality is no one in South Florida really likes him. Does that sound like a personal attack? Well, if you don't believe me, consider that in a recent poll, he finished just ahead of Fidel Castro in popularity rating here in South Florida.
Loria begins the letter by saying that the 2012 Marlins stunk and changes needed to be made. Okay, so far, so good. But then the classic Loria attitude took over. He wrote, "Many grabbed hold of our tough yet necessary decisions only to unleash a vicious cycle of negativity." He added, "The buck stops with me and I take my share of the blame where it's due." Oh, how precious. Yes, he said, he takes "his share of the blame." As if the fans or media deserve any blame for the joke the Marlins have become. No, Jeffrey, you deserve ALL of the blame.
His next step was to address the roster. He said the trade of high-priced players, or as we like to call it around here, the salary dump, was "universally celebrated by baseball experts outside of Miami for its value." Technically he's right. He got value for sure, as in saving hundreds of millions of dollars. Of course, he thinks it was a sound baseball move because the Marlins now have one of the top minor league systems in all of baseball. The problem is he seems to forget that having a good farm system isn't exactly what he promised Marlins fans when the new ballpark arrived.
He promised, in his words, a "competitive roster" that would fight for championships year in and year out. I'm not sure he can find any so-called "baseball expert" who can say that about his roster this season. So again, Loria continues to fail to look at reality.
Loria then touches on the issue that probably bothers fans, or shall I say former fans, more than anything: the ballpark. This is where he really attacks the media by claiming that the facts are reported incorrectly.
While I can't speak for every media outlet, I can say that what we have reported at Local 10 has been just the facts. I'm pretty sure the other local stations and newspapers have done the same. Loria just likes to tell you the way HE sees the facts.
The fact is that Loria is correct about the tourist taxes used to fund a portion of the ballpark. Yes, those dollars came from tourists and not resident taxpayers. But what Loria fails to mention is that because those dollars were used for his ballpark, millions of dollars that could have been used for other projects weren't. It's simple logic, but not to Loria. He even passes the buck to local politicians by saying, "many are attacking the County's method of financing for its contribution, but the Marlins had nothing at all to do with that." Wow. I give the man credit, he has some guts.
He again fails to mention that he never opened up the books to local officials and cried poor. Of course, that was all proven a lie when documents were leaked showing that Loria and his team pocketed millions of dollars from Major League Baseball revenue sharing. MLB even reprimanded the team and told them they needed to spend more of the revenue sharing money. Meantime, he distances himself from the county money because he knows with interest the cost of the ballpark long term will likely cost tax payers hundreds of millions of dollars more.
Speaking of finances, Loria next talks about the team not having unlimited funds. Again, he's right about that, but did anyone really expect that to be the case? We all know that to build a winning team, you have to spend wisely. The key word in that last sentence is
"spend." That's something the Marlins aren't doing much of this season. Or as Loria writes, "last season wasn't sustainable and we needed to start from scratch quickly to build this team from the ground up." Here we go again with Loria and his promises. He promised to build by getting a new ballpark and spending on quality players, but after one awful season, he scrapped the plan to go back to his petty ways. He continues to want to fool fans.
And finally, yes, he addresses the fans. He closes with the only bit of information that I actually buy. He writes, "We know we can do a better job communicating with our fans." Bingo! Finally, Loria says something we can all agree with. The fans deserve better and need to stop being fed lies. The problem is it's just too late for that. Why should we believe him? Why should we care?
Loria seems to feel the media wants to see this team fail and have awful attendance, but in my case, and many others, that's just not true. I want to see the Marlins have a winning franchise. I want to see the ballpark filled night in and night out. I want that because I'm a proud resident of South Florida and know winning is good for the community.
But, Loria has no one to blame for this mess but himself. In the end, he can take this condescending joke of a letter and go back to hiding. I've got a great place he can do that in this season, somewhere no one else will be: his $600 million ballpark.